Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Repeating The Same Thing Over And Over Isn't Going To Make Them Listen

Do You Ever Find Yourself Repeating Things To An Employee (or your child)?

When you find yourself in the situation of repeating yourself for the first time (you've said it once, they didn't respond, and now you are saying it a second time), it's important to realize that the thought process / personal commitment wasn't really there for them to change their behavior - the first time. So rather than saying it again and only getting frustrated with their lack of response, it's time to lead them through the process of commitment (even if it means a few extra minutes with them).

Remember, slow is fast when it comes to relationships.

Commitment takes shared meaning - an understanding of "why" as much as understanding "what". And in many cases it requires actual personal participation (even if on a very simple level) through their getting an opportunity to provide input into the solution, or at least being heard.

Commitment from others to your idea doesn't take you telling them. No instead it takes "being heard and understood".

And once your employees (or anyone else) feels heard and understood, (not agreed with, but understood) and believes that you have at least considered their point of view, it's amazing how quickly they can and will get involved and commit to the solution.

On These Issues, Invite Them Into The Process . . . Don't Exclude Them.

So, invite those whom you are trying to lead into a discussion - share with them why you are stating what you are stating and invite them to share their feelings. The key though is that you must listen . . . empathetically. The solution doesn't have to change (but it might). But by being heard they will become considerably more committed in their own mind to the solution and the process you are asking them to participate in.

For example, A couple of months ago, I told my kids to clean up the horse manure in our pasture as part of their chores. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but it's not "hard work" per se. Being the loving children they are, they agreed to do it. But in truth, they had made not internalized the effort or committed to it, because all they could see was the barriers, they didn't get a chance to speak their mind or really get a chance to understand my reasons.

So over the past month and a half, I've been hounding them to clean up the pasture. I would get OKs, but no action ever really resulted. I failed to listen to them, understand their obstacles, their issues, and truly invited them into the process. there was no shared meaning /no shared agreement. They were agreeing because I told them to, not because they committed to it.

The Solution Is Leadership And A Commitment To Include, Not Dictate

In most cases (especially in business), people try to buy commitment with pay. But what they don't realize is that by doing that, they aren't getting commitment to the job, they are getting commitment to the pay. There is a big difference, and you don't have to go too far down any Main Street in America to see employees who are getting paid (often quite well) with little or no commitment to what they are doing.

So, all that being said, there are two things to gaining commitment to a process or idea.

- Have a open dialog about it - sharing the facts as you see them and your feelings and opinion and inviting them to do the same.
- Provide a solution and / or ask them to contribute a solution to the discussion and find the best solutions together.

This is more work than telling - and it is work that most of us try to avoid. But this is Leadership. Dictatorial direction works fine to a certain point with employees (and in my case) kids, but eventually they revolt back. And yes I understand that sometimes for safety reasons, there is no time for discussion, but those are rare.

Whenever possible, whether you are working with your employees, your spouse, your kids or anyone you are trying to "influence" in any way, take few minutes and discuss - the results will amaze you. Because as a result of your discussion, not only will you get a whole new level of commitment, but any discussion that you have to have in the future over failure to fulfill the agreed upon tasks will be completely different than any one you have currently. Because they won't only have let you down, but they will have let themselves down - turned their back on their own commitments.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Invite The Wrong People Into Your Dreams

Sharing your ideas with the wrong people can be deadly to your dreams.

I've seen it personally and with people I know more times than I can count.

When you start to dream, you are extremely vulnerable. You want to believe the dreams can come true, and in many cases, you are beginning to let yourself believe they can.

However, if you are like most people, you believe dreams are just that . . . DREAMS. They happen for other people, but not for you. So when you start the process of beginning to let yourself believe in a dream, you have to be careful - careful with how you treat that dream and careful who you share it with.

In most cases, the people we wish to share out dream with are our loved ones. We want their support and for them to join in and help us achieve our dreams. Unfortunately though, it doesn't always work out that way.

You Are The Person You Are Because Of The People You Have Surrounded Yourself With.

A couple days ago, I wrote a blog about how you are, who you surround yourself with, We Are A Reflection Of The People We Surround Ourselves With. And you can change where you are going by changing the people we surround ourselves with.

We all inherently know this . . . at a subconscious level. We know that about ourselves and about others.

So, when you share your dreams with others, especially family and friends who love you, part of their subconscious reaction is to undermine those efforts. Not because of some malicious desire to kill your dreams - that's not the case at all. In fact, they do it out of love - they do it out of the person that they want in their life

You see, when you begin to pursue your dreams, those who know and care about you inherently know that you are going to grow. And growth is not only towards your dream, but also away from your old life - and possibly away from them.

It's important to know that people don't throw roadblocks in front of you intentionally.

They don't provide negative feedback on your ideas because they want to hurt you.

When you set your dream and commit to it, you change who you are.

However, those around you haven't changed at all. They haven't committed to your dream - in fact it may be completely different from what they want. That doesn't mean they don't care, it only means they don't want things to change.

Don't Invite The Wrong People Into Your Dreams

The bottom line is that your dreams, especially in the early stages, are vulnerable. So be careful who you share those dreams with.

Look at your past. . . it doesn't matter how much someone loves you, if they have stifled your dreams in your past, they most likely will again today . . . or in your future.

Protect your dream, until it matures and gains strength in your own mind.

And then, when it is safe, and you know that their nay-saying won't undermine your efforts, bring them on board - because after all, they are quite often the people that care the most about you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How Will You Challenge Yourself Today?

“Do something everyday that scares you.”
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Sometimes our push comes from our parents.

And sometimes that push comes from within.

There is a great video by that talks about this very issue - Eagles Need a Push

When Was The Last Time You Were Scared and Overcame That?

When was the last time you did something that really scared the heck out of you?

When was the last time you took a chance - whether with sharing an idea, pursuing a dream, risked embarrassing yourself, or did something that you know would shake the foundation of your world for the rest of your life.

A Personal Story About Overcoming Fears

Here is a little story, that I've told many times, but I think it's an important story . . . nonetheless. And I don't "autobiographize" very often. Yes, I know that's not really a word, but it's my blog.


Growing up, I was scared of everything. Scared of heights, scared of speed, and scared of leaving home. You name it, I was scared of it. But I was lucky, because in spite of my fears, I had a couple key people in my life that made me do things that I was afraid to do, because they knew it was the best thing for me and knew that I would enjoy it in the long run.

My Mom drug me up (and then down again) one of those Big Carnival Slides (where you sit on the mat) literally kicking and screaming. But don't worry, after crying all the way up and down that first time, they couldn't get me off the slide for the rest of the afternoon. I hear tell that I went down by myself at least 10 times in a row. And, the story goes that they had to drag me away when it was time to go.

But I didn't learn my lesson there - I still was afraid. I wasn't able to figure out that fears weren't real . . . just in my head.

In fact, ten years later, my older brother Michael drug me on the Lochness Monster in Busch Gardens, Williamsburg - my first Roller Coaster ever. Yes, again, he drug me on nearly kicking and screaming. Needless to say, it was the best thing for me. Because now, even though they still send chills down my spine every time I get on the truth is I can't get enough of roller coasters. I love 'em.

And this all leads up to my 19th Birthday. Still struggling with my fears (specifically my fear of heights), and knowing I had to do something to over come them, I did something that would change my life forever.

On a sunny, hot, August morning, after sleeping in (because I took that day off of work), I walked into the kitchen in my parent's home, announced that I was going skydiving and walked out the door - not to be heard from again for nearly 8 hours, until I returned home again.

I had pondered the idea of skydiving for a while, but only decided that morning, when I got up, that I would actually go through with it . . . or at least try to.

I didn't tell anyone before that morning . . . nor did I give anyone a chance to stop me.

And in spite of being scared out of my mind, AGAIN, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from 3000' and parachuted to terra firma. I loved it, and would like to think I was brave in my adventure, but I know that I wasn't. In fact if they would have let me (and I hadn't just invested $175 for the training and jump), I would have ridden back down with the pilot. But the instructor simply looked at me and said (as he pointed out of the plane), that's the only way down for you. And he was right.

And from that point on in my life I didn't look back - I didn't let my fears dominate the course that I followed.

Sure I still had fears, but I finally taught myself that I could overcome them . . . when and if I choose to.

Why YOU Should Challenge Your Fears

Now, I look back, as a retired Navy Pilot with over 600 carrier landings (250 of them at night) at what hot day in August meant to me. Sometimes I think maybe I should have been more scared in some situations, and that was my sheer ignorance that prevented that, but I never once doubted my capabilities in an airplane. Sure, I screwed up occasionally (ok, maybe more than just occasionally), but I never doubted or feared that I was incapable of handling the situation. Mostly, I believe, because I learned that the fears that hold you back are all . . . just in your mind.

So, I have to ask you . . . when was the last time you did something that really scared you?

And I challenge you to do something today . . . that scares you - whatever that might be!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are A Reflection Of The People We Surround Ourselves With

It's truly amazing how the people you surround yourself with can have an impact on you and your life.

It's not just positive people - but people who make you stretch yourself. It's about being around people you respect. People who challenge you. People who make you question yourself (in a positive way). And people who make you feel good about what you are doing.

It's much easier sometimes to hang around with people who make you feel big, but sometimes it's important to find those who can help you grow to be even bigger.

Napoleon Hill talks about mastermind groups - surrounding yourself with people who are already achieving what you want. That is so true.

If you want to grow your business, mingle and associate with successful business owners and learn from them.

If you want a happy marriage, hang out with happy couples, especially older ones that can mentor you.

If you want more wealth and success, hang out with wealthy and successful people that can guide you through the process you need to follow to achieve personal success.

If you want to be poor, unhappy, and angry about what life is stealing from you every day, surround yourself with people who act that way or are that way, and you will quickly find yourself right there with them.

Stop And Look Around

Now that you understand what impact the people around you have on your life and where you are going, stop and look around. Look at who you have in your life and ask yourself, "Are the people in my life helping me get to where I want to go . . . or are they holding me back?"

Are my friends, family and co-workers in the place that I'm trying to get to, or not?

Are there people out there that you could surround yourself with that will get you closer to what you want?

Stop and think about it. And begin to take action to help yourself get what you want. . . by surrounding yourself with the people that are either already there or can help you get there.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You've Got To Take Care Of More Than Just Your Body

I have a client who is a personal trainer. She was struggling with a cold the other day and was frustrated because as she almost passed out from doing Jumping Jacks with a client. Her body was weak and fighting an illness.

What's funny is that many other times in the past she had been getting lost with her mental focus, so I saw an learning opportunity. Helping her understand that she not only has physically weak days when her body is fighting "stress", but she also has tough intellectual, emotional, and spiritual days when those aspects of her being were stressed as well.

You can obviously see when you are having good and bad days in a physical manner. Right? When you are tired or feeling ill. That same things happens mentally, but it isn't as obvious. That's right, You don't have to have a sickness or cold to have weak mental days. Sometimes it's just a bunch of things distracting you (stress).

My client had trained herself to recognize the days when she couldn't push herself too much physically. And besides, her body won't let her (like the Jumping Jacks). But it isn't so easy to recognize the same thing happening to you intellectually, emotionally or even spiritually.

Yes, they are all aspects of your being that have good days and bad days. Days when the muscles that give you strength in the 4 categories of being (physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual) grant you ability to move the earth. And days when you are lucky to even have any strength at all.

Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Know when you are in a fog, intellectually. Know when your emotions are fragile. And know when you spiritual being is drained. This doesn't always directly correlate with physical well being, although it often times might. Be willing to take things a bit slower when that is happening, just like you do physically. Get mental, emotional and even spiritual "rest" when you feel you are burning out or simply need some time to recover.

And when you are on your game in these arenas . . . take advantage of it. Exercise those muscles to give you more strength and stamina and even a better ability to stave off the fog when it comes back.
This isn't easy. It takes an awareness that very few people have. But you have something going on that very few people - you are looking at your day and your life, each objectively, to keep you grounded and focused. You are seeing when things are working for you and when you aren't. Now you are going to be able to think about things at an even deeper level - at a core level, in a way that you do you physical well being.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

If You Weren't Sure What Self-Sabotage Looked Like?

Funny Where The Lessons In Life Come From

A friend shared a video with me the other day that is both absolutely hysterical and educational - with lots of lessons from a coaching perspective.

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs with many people who decide to “change” their life for the better. They commit very deeply to the process of change – truly believing they will do what ever it takes to make the change become permanent. But just as they are about to “break through” to the next level, they disengage from the process and go back to their old self.

Why is this? Why do they pull-back from change just as things are getting good?

Is it because they changed their minds and don't really believe in their goals anymore? Or because they don't think the process is working for them?

I don't think so!

Even though they may say and "feel" both of these things, I don't believe it to be true. In fact, I think that just the opposite is true. And the longer I coach, the more I see it happen.

You see, up until the point of backing down, most people actively participate in the change process at a conscious level. They make real decisions to be who they want to be. And they are very motivated.

Unfortunately though, change in the early stages isn't permanent - it's just surface changes. Real change takes time and requires a deeper commitment. It requires changing habit patterns which are subconscious thoughts - and these are not as easily changed.

Sure, they get close to making a real difference long term, but they never carry through because of an incredible strong drive to quit and / or destroy everything they've worked for up to this point. And it feels the longer they fight it, the stronger the feeling grows.

It is precisely at this point that they sabotage themselves with their own thought patterns. They begin to attack their own desires and destroy what they are actually working so hard to achieve.

From an outside perspective, it's easy to spot - we see it all the time with friends and family. But from a personal perspective, it's often quite a bit tougher to recognize. Literally we can't see our own self-deception and how we are undermining our own intentions.

That is until it's too late.

Watch A Real Example of Self-Sabotage!

This video is short and shows you an example of a dog that has the goal of eating a bone. Unfortunately though, one of his hind legs has different intentions . . . or so he thinks. So rather than chewing on the bone and doing what he wants to do, we find him attacking his own paw - driven so much by a fear that someone or something is going to try to take away the bone.

Literally, this poor dog ends up spending his time attacking his own fears than enjoying the pursuit of his goal.

Do you ever find yourself doing this?

Do you ever self-sabotage just as you are getting close to what you want?

There is nothing to fear about it . . . it happens to all of us. And the first step to working through the struggle is knowing it is happening. And remembering to stay focused on the goal, in spite of the voices that are trying to sabotage your desires.

Here is the video . . . enjoy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learning Is A Full Time Job

Personal Growth Can Start Happening RIGHT Now!

Have you ever really stopped and looked at your day - truly been present in it and looked at the lessons you are learning throughout the day, and who is teaching you . . . who is shaping who you are and how you behave?

As you may guess, I spend a lot of time "introspectively" (if that is even a word) viewing myself. I try very hard to look at my life and live the path that I work with you on. I ask myself every night what's working in my life, and what's not working. And I look to what I can do better tomorrow.

As difficult as it can be, I do try to live what I preach.

In the past week, I have found myself doing it even more often . . . during natural breaks in a conversation, while I'm driving, making dinner, or even sitting at my desk getting work done, in between tasks. I have found myself looking at not only my day to day life, but also my hour to hour life. And I've been trying to be aware of my state of mind at each step. And trying to make corrections.

Now, I'm not going to lie. I'm not very good at it (yet). But I have found myself more actively trying to correct behavior before the moment fades from thought than I ever have in the past.

I don't try to do it "in the moment", because I try to be present, but as soon as I can when the moment is over, learn and move on.

I try to listen better when I know I've been distracted.

I try to re-orient myself on my daily goals, when I know I'm drifting and getting distracted by less important issues.

Even if something went the way I had hoped it would, I find myself looking for things that could go better - looking for ways to improve it for the next time I'm in a similar situation.

Changing Your Perspective

I guess what I'm saying is that the more you act on this model of behavior, the more you begin to look at life differently. You stop seeing life as simply happening to you - in a way that you are just a passenger on a train to wherever the conductor chooses to go. Instead, you get to decide where you want to go next . . . what you want to be and who you want to become.

For example, one of the skills I constantly struggle with and work on continuously is listening. I often times try to impress others with my knowledge and bombard them with more and more information instead of listening to them and finding out exactly what they need. I've always known this to be true, but I always had a hard time seeing myself doing it, as it was happening - I get emotional about the issue and fail to correct myself.

Now, although, it still happens, I have been able to see myself more objectively - as conversations happen. Rather than waiting until the conversation is over and looking at my mistakes, I've started to really enhance my ability to see what's working and what isn't more clearly, when the conversation allows. I try to find ways to get back on track, if I've drifted and started to monopolize the conversation. And I begin to become a better listener, before things get out of hand.

Try Applying It In Your Own Life

As you go about your day today, just take a couple moments, once or twice through out the day, and ask yourself, "what's working right now?" and "what isn't?". Then real quick make a small adjustment (consciously) and move forward.

Now I know that we all do this at an unconscious level all day long. But that tends to result in the "status quo" - because that's all the unconscious knows - making corrections to our actions that keep us in the rut we're in.

However, if you can make this happen consciously - before the memories of the mistake disappear into your subconscious thoughts, you will begin, ever so slowly to reshape your behavior, not just daily (on a cursory level), but also on an immediate basis, where you can affect real change.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear about examples of how YOU are making near-real time corrections throughout YOUR day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are You Making The Most Of Your Time and Money?

We all have a limited amount of time in the day. And we also don't have a bottomless pocketbook.

We all know that . . . far too well.

Most of my clients tell me that if I could just get them an extra 4 hours added to the day (a 28 hour day) and 5 more clients per week, things would be perfect.

So, let me ask YOU, would 4 more hours in the day or 5 new clients really help you?

Do you think you need more time and money?

Or do you think you need to better manage and even leverage the time and money you do have first?

In my opinion, most people will fill the void with whatever they are doing. It's not a matter of having more time or making more money - in most cases. Instead, it's a matter of knowing where to spend you time and money to get the most bang for the buck - it's all about leveraging.

Leverage, as we are talking here, is defined as "Positional advantage and or the power to act effectively". So the goal isn't just to figure out where you can apply your efforts and / or money to create the improvement, but instead how to generate the best advantage or biggest change for the least amount of your effort.

Measure, Analyze and Modify Regularly To Make Constant Improvements

Measuring and analyzing will tell you where you should invest your time and money to yield the biggest bang for the buck.

If your sales are falling, most people will spend more time (and money) to generate more leads. They will commit their efforts to more marketing. But what they don't know is that they may already be getting enough leads. In fact they "may" already be spending more than they need to. In these cases, their leverage point isn't lead generation, it's lead conversion.

Through diligent measurement and analysis, they might see that their sales aren't down because people aren't finding them - their sales are down because their sales staff is lazy . . . or inconsistent in their approaches.

If they could simply increase the conversion rate of leads to clients from say 5% to 10%, this would double their sales.

Conversely, if they blindly just tried doubling their marketing efforts, they might find that they are spending a whole lot more time and money to get the same results.

Or, if their conversion rate is already high (above 60-70%, depending on their industry), then they may in fact need to find out which lead sources are working best (and which ones aren't working at all) and try to increase the volume through that lead source.

This might cost some money, but it would sure beat spending marketing dollars on leads that you KNOW aren't going to buy.

We need to think about all of these things - not just in sales, but in life. When you look at "what's not working" and "what is working", it's important to know which things provide the best leverage point for you to improve your life and which ones are just time consumers and money pits.

Another Example of the 80/20 Rule

They say that 20% of effort, yields 80% of your results - if you could increase your 20% to 25% and get 100% results, then you could take the other 75% of the time off.

Conversely, if you increase your 80% effort (that yields 20% of your results) to 100% effort, you will still only be getting 25% of the results, and you will feel completely useless and wonder why things are working out for you.

So, which would you rather have, 25% effort meeting all of your goals? Or 100% effort where you only achieve a quarter of your goals?

Your choice, but my lazy butt would rather do less and get more.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grow From The Confidence You Gain From Love

“To live you have to experiment, to have the ability to experiment you have to have confidence, to have confidence you have to be loved, to be loved you have to love”
Author Unknown

Life is too short to NOT give yourself time to be and time to find out and face why you are doing what you are doing each and every day. That's what weekends are for.

Look on this weekend as an opportunity to experiment - experiment in your life, exploring who you are and what you want from it.

I have learned many hard lessons in my life - many I continue to learn each day. Some I wish I didn't have to
learn. But life teaches us the things that we must learn in order to become who we want to be.

Look at your life and find your
love. Find your passion. Find that someone or something that loves you back - fills your passion so that your heart stays full and can explore and experiment without fear.

Take some time today and / or tomorrow. Listen to yourself, your heart, and to the words you hear around you.
Seek out the love that encourages you to grow and seek out new things, find new paths and want more.

Ask yourself if you are being filled with the love that gives you the confidence to pursue and experiment in life.

Ask yourself if you feel like you are so grounded and rooted in love, that you can, like a tree, reach up to the sky with your branches, and become all that you can become.

Do this for yourself. Do this for those that love you. Do this and live.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Voices You Hear Might Be Saying The Wrong Thing

As I've talked about before, we (our conscious minds) are bombarded by thousands of messages every second. And believe it or not, most of us never hear them.

Where do those messages come from and why can't we hear them? Well, because most of the time, they are doing very little more than simply re-enforcing the behavior that we so naturally live in our lives.

It's just like if I were to beat a drum at a rate of 2 beats per second really loudly, and you were able to sync up with my beat in another room, with a different drum, I wouldn't ever know you were even there.

We wake up when the messages tell us to.

We eat when the messages tell us to.

We do, all day long, what the messages tell us to do.

That is how the subconscious and conscious mind work. We think we are doing what we choose to do each and every minute of the day. But, 99% of the time, what we are doing is more driven out of habit and or life patterns, than of conscious choice.

Normally, when our lives are going the way they always have, this isn't a big deal. Because the messages are in-sync with our conscious thoughts and actions. But. . . when we decide to change something in our lives, or things in our lives are suddenly changed for us, things become a lot tougher.

Going back to the drum beat example, imagine if I were to change my tempo and you didn't. Yep, you guessed it, your presence would suddenly be known to me.

This change causes the messages from our subconscious and our conscious actions to begin to conflict with each other. And there are two results that can occur:

1. You ignore your subconscious pull to your past methods, knowing they don't apply any more. (I accept that our beats are out of sync and I begin to teach you . . . over time to follow my pattern).
2. You revert back to your old habits, ending the changes that you start to experience. (the consistency of your beat at a rate of 2 beats per second, overcomes my desire to be different and I start following your lead, to stop the noise).

Our Subconscious Mind Doesn't Care What We are Doing

The subconscious doesn't care what you are doing, that's not a concern of it. The present doesn't matter to it - nor does current reality. It wants you to do what you were doing - what it's trying to get you to do . . . is get you to do what you did yesterday.

Your subconscious likes repetition. It likes habits. And it hates change.

So every time your life begins to deviate slightly from its past patterns of behavior, you feel a conflict. And that conflict is tough to overcome.

Overcoming the Change . . . Or Not

The first couple days / weeks you are trying to change, your sheer will to make it happen often is enough to keep your subconscious mind from winning the battle. But as your focus dissipates (as it nearly always will over time), the pull of your habits becomes stronger and stronger.

Good news is that eventually, you can build new habit patterns - new ways of thinking and behaving in a given situation. But the bad news, is that the "old patterns" of thought never completely go away - although their influence does decrease over time.

The hardest part of creating change in your life is that the messages become "louder" (more obvious), the more out of sync with your old behavior you get. You can call it self-sabotage, or self-destruction, but the simple truth is that what your subconscious mind is trying to do is simply do what it's supposed to do - keep you safe and alive using the same patterns of thought that have gotten you this far.

It doesn't know if your new patterns are working or not - it just keeps trying to maintain the status quo.

It doesn't want to create failure in your life - it just wants to keep you moving forward the same way you got to where you are.

Breaking Through To The Other Side

You've seen it before in failed diets, attempts to turn over a new leaf, or stopping any behavior that you know is habitual, but is causing you serious harm in your life. Every time you start to make big headway, you hit a barrier that you can not break through - you hit a invisible wall.

The wall isn't really there, it just feels like it is, because the influence of your subconscious is so powerful.

In order to break through the personal barriers, you must keep you eyes on the horizon and your conscious mind on your goals. Don't let the voices (messages) dissuade you. Don't let them turn you around - they grow loudest just before they start to fade.

Stay focused and keep moving forward.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Your Outlook Will Define Your Day - Your Life

Sunrise on a Monday Morning

What is your day going to be like today? Have you decided?

I've never been a big fan of Mondays. In fact, my Mom used to tell me that I was allergic to Mondays, since I tried my hardest to avoid going to school after the weekend.

It's not to say, that in many ways that I wouldn't rather sleep in on Mondays (especially since I'm usually up by 4:30 am, to provide coaching to my clients), but actually, I look forward to Mondays now. Mostly because since I started coaching I look at the week as a new beginning, instead of "long time until the weekend again".

Outlook is everything.

How you face your day will have as much impact as the circumstances you face throughout the day. How you choose to look at life will, for the most part, determine the way life impacts you.

If you have a positive outlook, thankful for the opportunities you face (counting your blessings) you will most likely see everything as an opportunity and make wonderful things happen for yourself both today, and in the coming week.

But (and this is tough), if you wake up on a Monday, and have the attitude of 'gotta get through this day' or I wish this day was over, then you will most likely look upon everything that comes up as a challenge.

Things will come up today, and every day forward. You have seen that time and time again. You can look at each day as an opportunity or as a burden to get through. Your attitude won't change the circumstances, directly, but it will change how those circumstances impact your life.

If you choose to find the positive in situations, then you will find happiness and opportunity in every situation.

If you choose to find the negative in situations, then you will find bitterness and feel failure in every situation.

Choose what you want your day to be!

Choose how you are going to handle every situation that presents itself to you!

. . . And then make it happen.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Let Your Feelings Dictate Your Life

How are you feeling today?

Far too often we let our feelings drive our lives. We let how we feel dictate what we do and how we act. We feel good one day, and it becomes a good day. We feel bad the next, or not up to the task, and sure enough, it comes true.

Unfortunately, being beholden to your feelings, leaves you beholden to your past . . . and to your subconscious mind . . . not to your vision and your goals.

So instead of letting your feelings drive your actions, let your goals drive your actions. Rather than responding to how you feel, respond and drive yourself based on what you want.

What You Want Needs To Be The Driving Factor?

Ever start a diet because you "want" to loose weight, get trim, and feel better about yourself. - only to do good for three days, and quit, because you weren't feeling better about yourself.

Did you stop wanting to loose weight?

Did you stop wanting to get trim?

Did you stop wanting to feel better about yourself?

Usually not. Your goal didn't change. You just gave-in to the feelings of not wanting to do the work any more. Not wanting to work out. And certainly not wanting to feel hungry any more.

You Can't Count On Feelings

Feelings need to follow your actions, not lead them. But they take time - and are rarely predictable 100% of the time. Our feelings are rooted all too often in mixed messages and crossed wires in the memories of our past.

Our goals are rooted in the future.

Don't follow your feelings.
They will lead you in circles, often right back to where you started.

Feelings are confusing.

Often anger is confused with fear. Often hope and infatuation is confused with trust and love.

In the case of the diet above, you should not set a goal to feel better about yourself . . . because how you feel is often too easily impacted by many outside factors - things outside of our control.

And besides, feelings are not measurable and often very related more to how I felt 10 minutes or 10 hours ago, than any set standard. So it is often tough to tell how much better you feel from one week to the next - or from one year to the next.

Sure, you can set a goal of losing 10lbs or 2 inches from your waist, and you can say that you should feel better because of that, but there is no guarantee that you will.

In fact, you may feel that given all the work you did, you should feel better than you actually do, only to cause you to give up on any further efforts.

Let Your Goals Drive Your Actions

Bottom line, follow your vision and your goals . . . and they will lead you to where you want to be, even in the midst of tumultuous feelings.

And besides, and you've heard me say it 1000s of times - Let Your Goals Drive Your Actions.

Set your goals - make them what you want, not what you want to feel. The feelings will follow, if your goals are truly what you want.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kicking the Can Down the Road is Rarely the RIGHT Answer

What are you doing today that is a distraction from achieving your goals?

All too often, what we do to fill our day is little more than a distraction. We have a list of things we want or need to get done, but for whatever reason, we are avoiding doing them.

Maybe it's that you aren't sure how to do them.

Maybe you don't want to do them.

Or maybe you are afraid to do them because they "may" have results that you don't want.

Have you ever done this . . . avoided doing the really important things in your life, either at work or in your personal life, simply because avoidance is easier?

Well, let me share something with you. I often personally struggle with this and continue to learn both in my personal life and in helping others as a coach.

Avoidance is never the right answer.

It may feel good at the moment - it may feel like the right solution - but you know that there is no hiding from the truth - no hiding from your commitments. Sooner or later you have to face the things you are avoiding.

The problem with avoiding things is that the longer you avoid facing your challenges, the more they drain you - stealing away your happiness and your peace of mind. The longer you keep trying to "kick the can down the road", the more you end up having to clean up in the long run.

So what is the trick? What can you do to remedy this struggle? Is there an simple fix?

As usual, the fix is simple, but the implementation is often quite hard.

The truth is, when it comes to "tough things" to do, your current reward for avoiding is more desirable than not doing. So, what you need to do, is change that - any way you possibly can:
A few simple ways you can do to help this are:

- Define a reward that you REALLY want that you will give yourself when you make this happen. And with hold that reward until you have achieved your goals.
- Share with a friend, a family member, and /or an accountability partner (someone you can take criticism from) that you are avoiding something that you really want to get done. Ask them to "ride you hard", until you get it done - tell them to keep it objective, but to become your personal nag.
- Simply make TODAY the day you are going to get it done . . . whatever "it" is. And then just do it - no excuses, no distractions, no interruptions. NO MATTER WHAT!

I know these ideas seem like common sense, but as I have said many times in the past, "common sense is not common practice".

Stop thinking that things will get better, just because you want them to. Take action and make them happen. You will feel better about yourself when you finally get to the other side.
you are obviously not doing a very good job of holding yourself accountable.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes You Have To Throw Away Something Valuable To Get What You Really Want

Have you ever heard of Steve Montforo? Maybe . . . maybe not.

Before Tuesday night, unless you were his friend or a family member, odds are you had never heard of him. But since Tuesday, he has been in the Top 10 ESPN plays of the day, talked about by newscasters all over the country, is one of two stars on one of the hottest online videos in quite some time, and even made it on NBC's Today Show this morning.

Who is he? In my opinion, he's an inspiration to us all.

So what did Steve Montforo do on Tuesday Night that made him famous? That made him an inspiration. He put the love of his family - specifically his daughter - ahead of his own feelings.

Take a look: Watch the video.

Steve has been a life long Phillies fan - going to games since he was a little kid. And although he had been to hundreds of games, he had never caught a foul ball. That is until this past Tuesday Night.

Ever since he was a little boy, it had always a dream of Steve's to catch a foul ball at a Phillies game, and he finally did it. What made it even cooler, was that he made a spectacular catch to do so and the crowd responded with cheers.

He was so proud, he, without hesitation, handed the ball to his 3-year old daughter, Emily, so she could basque in his glory with him.

But, as you can see from the video, his daughter, thinking she was doing the right thing, immediately threw the ball back over the railing and into the crowd below them. Instantly, the crowd, changed their cheers, into "oooooooo's".

Steve Montforo, again without hesitation, and sensing that the crowd's response was going to scare his daughter, immediately embraced her and reassured her that what she had just done, was perfectly OK. And in an interview later, he was quoted as saying, "I think she was a little startled by the reaction," he explained. "I just wanted her to know it was OK."

In a short moment, one of his childhood dreams came true. And he watched his daughter throw it away. But the gift that he has received since then, has changed his life and given both he and his daughter more than they could have ever dreamed of having - and much more valuable than any old baseball.

And he (and the rest of us) learned the lesson that. . . Sometimes, you have to be willing to give up what often "feels" very important to find the real gifts in life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leaders Start By Leading Themselves . . . First

Leaders Set Standards and Goals First For Themselves

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.
Ray Kroc

We are all leaders - leaders of our businesses, leaders of our families and yes . . . even leaders of our own lives. And before its possible to lead anyone else, you must first learn how to lead your own life and follow your own guidelines and standards. Because if you don't believe in and follow the ideals that you espouse, then no one else will either.

I know that may sound funny - following yourself, but it is something that happens more than you think - or it doesn't.

Your subconscious mind will follow your conscious lead. It will believe and follow you to the ends of the earth, if you truly believe and act on your words - and not just say them. But this requires integrity - consistency of action and deed - "Walking your Talk".

You have to live with integrity, be consistent and focus on the standards (and goals) within your life or your subconscious will not follow. Because when it comes right down to it, you, of all people, know when you are telling the truth and when you aren't. And you can pretend to lie to yourself, but your subconscious doesn't always follow your words - it follows your deeds.

What are the standards you set for yourself?

Do you have daily expectations that you hold yourself accountable to?

Do you have weekly, monthly, or even yearly goals that you review and ensure that you are fulfilling - again doing so with accountability in your life?

Or do you simply go about life, living willy-nilly - just doing a cursory review every year on how things went on New Year's Eve and on your milestone Birthdays.

When you say you are going to do something, do you deliver on your promise to others? To yourself?

These are all tough questions . . . intended to challenge you and get you to look at yourself differently. Most people I talk to want to change their surroundings but don't, but rarely follow their own lead.

So if you want to lead "Change" in this world, start first by leading yourself . . . and following your own advice and words. Or you should expect that no one else will either.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Difference Between Instinct and Intelligence

It Started With Finding A Spider

The other day, my kids and I got a chance to watch the spider to the right weave her egg sac. It was an absolutely amazing sight to see . . . and I hate spiders.

The conversation that followed was a lot of fun.

My daughter, Garret, 9 years old, thought it was amazing that this little spider knew how to weave such an amazing web and egg sac, without her parents around to help her. "How could she do that?", she wondered about the 4-inch Garden Spider hanging next to her barn.

And she looked at me, saying that she wanted to understand know how such a little creature could make such an incredible wonder, without any help from her parents.

As you might imagine, I couldn't help but take a couple minutes with my maturing daughter to talk a bit about instinct and intelligence - the biggest difference between Man and the rest of the Animal Kingdom.

The spider I told her, had instincts on how to do many, many things, from what creatures were dangerous her to how to make a web - from how to catch and kill a spider to how to make an egg sac for her millions of little eggs and soon to be baby spiders. These ideas were ingrained in her mind from her genetic code. And she could neither avoid doing them any more than you and I could avoid breathing - it was simply built into who she was, and she had no real choice in it.

Intelligence, the one thing that separated her from this little spider, meant that although you did have some instinct in you to respond to certain situations, based on your genetic code, you could over ride it with lessons you've learned. And we started to lay down the basis for her understanding that life . . . HER LIFE . . . was her choice, not something that just happened to her.

Life is a Choice

I believe one of the keys to success in any endeavor is finding ways to change your situation, by changing your response to your circumstance. In life, we, as Human Beings, have a choice - we are intelligent, not instinctual like the rest of the Animal Kingdom. We don't have to respond the same way to circumstances every time we face them.

Sure, we can be slaves to the world around us - to our position in life and the luck that comes our way - living instinctively, day-to-day. Or we can break from the bondage of "circumstance" and create our own lives - taking advantage of the real gift that we have been given.

Unhappy, unsuccessful people allow the world to define them and always want something else.

Happy, successful people look at every situation as an opportunity to become more. To grow one step closer to their vision.

Here is a very interesting video about a young boy who chooses his own path, even in the act of slavery / bondage / control. He could have let his rebellious instincts define him, but instead he thought about finding a different solution to redefine the outcome. And takes control of the situation himself.
Where in your life do you feel bound - feel restricted, feel controlled or manipulated. It might be a monetary issue. It might be a relationship issue. It might be with your customers, your suppliers and / or your employees. Look at the situation differently. Go The Second Mile - the way you choose to go, because you want to change the situation. It may take more than one effort, but you will "redefine" the situation. You will break from your instincts and start applying the intelligence that you have gained in life.

And more importantly, YOU will begin to see the results you want, instead of the results that the world is trying to impose upon you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is the Economic Crisis Behind Us - Or Just In Remission?

According to Wikipedia, remission is "the state of absence of disease activity in patients with a chronic illness, with the possibility of return of disease activity."

That's right, it's not a cure - it's just a period where the symptoms of a disease are gone or subsided.

Like chemotherapy or radiation treatment with cancer, throwing money at a chronic economic problem, doesn't fix the problem, it only masks the symptoms. Sure, you see short term growth and you begin to feel better about things. But the nature of the system - the cause of the crisis - in the first place hasn't been fixed.

This is true both on a macroeconomic level, like the Global or National Economy and a microeconomic level, like your business and / or personal economic conditions.

If you were on the verge of bankruptcy, because you couldn't pay your debts on time and sales were down with your business and were able to convince a bank or creditor to loan you money (or even give you some), it would give you a stay of execution, but unless you figure out why your sales are down, why your expenses are exceeding your income, and of course do something about it (if you even can), you will be back to near bankruptcy soon enough . . . except this time with more debt and more pressure of inevitable collapse.

You know this to be true about your own household and business, so why would you think it would be any different for the government - be it Federal, State, or Local. The truth is, the same natural laws apply. You can make symptoms go away for a short period, but if you don't fix the underlying problem, the underlying disease, it will come back . . . stronger than ever.

We've seen it happen twice in the last decade. The first was the Dot-Com Bubble bursting. But since we really didn't fix the underlying social and economic reasons for the rise and collapse of the bubble, the next bubble was inevitable. The only question is what would it be.

Sure enough, next came the Housing / Credit bubble. And this one hit even harder and was the initial "cause" (and I use that term very loosely) of the economic situation we are currently in.

And unfortunately, since we really didn't let the crash take it's own course and find the bottom - bailing out the system and businesses that were struggling, we really haven't fixed the problem, only treated the symptoms.

So I ask YOU, as small business owners and others reading this blog, is the Economic Crisis behind us, or just in remission, ready to come back stronger than ever and crushing our (and the global) economy even more that we saw this past go around?

And in the case of your own business . . . have you done the work, are you doing the work that is necessary to cure your financial woes, or are you just waiting out the tough times, and setting yourself up for the next wave of good fortune . . . for remission of your chronic issues?

Friday, September 11, 2009

2 Questions: Where were you? How has it changed your life?

I know this article has been written a thousand times - and most likely by more eloquent writers. But since it's my blog, and I have a story to tell that I think can relate to many, I want to share where I was 8 years ago today.

We all have moments in our lives when you can remember exactly where you were on a specific day, when a specific event occurred. For nearly every American (and many others around the world) September 11th, 2001 was one of those days.

So where were you?

Like most Americans, I was at work. But unlike most other Americans, my work was on board an Aircraft Carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, in the middle of the Arabian Sea. And on day that our homeland was being cowardly attacked, just two weeks after my youngest son, Turner (whom I had only seen in photos) was born, I felt the emotions that everyone else back home felt:

- vulnerability and that I would never feel secure in my own country again
- fear that it was only the beginning and that there was more to come
- worry for my lovely wife who was home alone on our farm in Minnesota with our 18 month daughter and 2 week old son
- awe and trepidation of the power behind the evil that exists in the world
- sadness over the senseless loss of life
- pride over the reaction of the first responders in New York, Washington, and in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
- humbled by the smallness one can't help but feel in the face of something bigger than oneself
- and love for my wife and kids, my parents, my brothers and their families, my friends, and my fellow Americans

However, where I was, isn't nearly as important as how that fateful day has affected my life . . . How it has changed my life and how I look at my life today differently.

Like many, my life changed on September 11th, 2001.

Being in the military, you always know deep down that you could be called upon to sacrifice your life. But until that fateful day, I never thought that the lives of my family or friends were ever really threatened or held at risk by our Country's enemies. I never thought I would think I was safer on a US Warship at sea than my family on a farm in the Midwest . . . but it happened.

Never before did I honestly believe that I wouldn't be going home and seeing my family again, but on that day forward. I did . . . until I held them all in my arms again.

Life is precious.

We don't know what can happen that will change things forever in our lives.

So, it's incumbent for each of us to live each day as if it were the first day of the rest of your life .. . . as if it were September 12th. And live our lives with the memory that it could be the last . . . without any notice.

And finally, we shouldn't just do it today in honor of those who lost their lives on this day eight years ago. But we should live every day in honor of every man, woman and child who have and ever will give their lives in the name of our freedom or the freedom of any other human.

Bless you all, who have taken the time to stop and remember what today means. . . what it represents . . . and how it affected your life, FOREVER.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Four Steps to Turning A Bad Situation Around

How's your business doing?

How is your financial situation?

If you are like most people in America (and around the world for that matter), things aren't as good as you would like them to be.

Sure, in your mind, you might be blaming the economy and things that are out of your control for your current condition - which is not the healthiest thing to do on its own. But I don't believe that's why you haven't done anything about it.

So the question is . . . Why aren't you doing anything about it?

Why haven't you made the changes that you knew you were going to need to make sooner?

Why haven't you change your spending habits? Why haven't you have a garage sale to clean the junk you have all over the place to generate a little more cash? Or why haven't you posted them on eBay or Craig's List? And why haven't you called the credit card company and asked for a lower interest rate?

Or, even harder, why haven't you asked your friends and family for help?

The answers to these questions for most people might surprise you to read . . . although I think you know it already - deep down in your heart, whether you are feeling it now or have felt it in the past. The answer is, you feel shameful.

Ironically, in spite of the causes, many people that find themselves in "tough times" aren't locked into those positions because they don't know what to do. Instead most get stuck in ruts and difficult situations because of Shame - because of the painful emotion caused by a conscious (or even unconscious) awareness of their guilt or personal shortcoming that caused them to be where they are. And taking the steps necessary to fix the situation requires them to admit both privately and publicly that they did have a hand in the situation. And we all struggle with forgive ourselves of our own shortcomings.

The First Step - Face the Truth

Before you can do much else in repairing your situation, you have to face the truth. I don't care who you are, and what your situation is, you have to believe that you control your destiny, if you want to change your life for the better. Now that doesn't mean that bad things don't happen to good people - there is no doubt about that. But no matter the situation, you get to choose your response and eventually how the situation will turn out for you.

Accept responsibility for your choices that led to the situation. And then look inside yourself and decide whether or not you are stuck because someone or something is holding you back . . . Or if you are stifled in your position because you are holding yourself back, and why?

The Second Step - Release the Guilt and the Shame

Now that you have faced the truth of your situation, if not publicly, at least privately, it's time to take what is often the most difficult step to take in any change effort. And that is forgive yourself for the choices you have made to this point . . . both the good and bad choices.

Forgive yourself and release the guilt and shame that is holding you back from becoming all that you can and truly want to be. Because if you don't release the guilt and the shame, you will self-sabotage your efforts.

Remember, you can't change the past. But you don't have to relive it every day for the rest of your life either.

Learn from it.

Put it behind you.

And move on to making the choices that will help you become the you that you truly want to be.

The Third Step - Build a Plan and Enlist Help

Now that you have faced the truth and released your negative feelings so that you can move forward, it's time to do the fun stuff - planning the way forward.

The third step in the process of turn around your business and personal struggles is building a plan - a way forward. Suffice it to say that I could write for hours on this subject, but let me KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) for you:

- Figure out the real truth of your current condition (where you are)
- Define your goals / vision (where you want to go)
- Break down all the steps along way that you will have to accomplish to achieve the goals (what you have to do - one step at a time)
- List the obstacles that are going to get in your way (including your own mindset, if applicable).
- Figure out who can help you and enlist their support (who do you need help from)
- Build into the plan, a method for staying on track - a form of accountability to keep you from falling backwards and / or help you recognize the hiccups that come up along the way. (what is your feedback loop to keep you moving in the right direction)

The Fourth and Final Step - Take One Step at a Time

If you have gotten this far, you are about 90% there. Now all you have to do is follow your plan.

Just remember, you wrote a plan for a reason . . . you can't do it all at one time. As the saying goes, "You can't eat an elephant in one bite".

Take things ONE STEP AT A TIME . . . Obstacle at a time . . . One day at a time . . . And before you know it, you will have reached your goal and put what ever was "in your past" in your past for good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Become Stirred By Your Vision

We are all stirred by our vision. We are driven to action by our goals.

As I stated yesterday, it's pretty easy to get caught up in your own life - caught up in the drama around you and let it start affecting where you are going and what you are willing to do about it.

When you are struggling with your life and not sure what to do, how to take action, where to go next, the one place (the words and images) that you can always count on for your guidance and direction is your Vision - whether it is the professional vision you have for your business or the personal vision you have for your life.

Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.
Alfred North Whitehead

So, the questions you should be asking yourself are:

"What do I want to be?"

"Who do I want to be?"

"What do I want my life to be about?"

If you have the answers to these questions. Then look for them to be the guide each and every day forward. In them lie your destination and the compass - all you need to do is find the map.

However, if you don't have the answers to these questions, then that is the first task at hand.
And don't just answer these questions in your mind. WRITE THEM DOWN!!

Face them!!!

Look at them every day, religiously.

Don't ever turn away from them.

Drink them into your spirit and embrace them.

Make them more than just words, make them your Personal and Professional Constitution.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We All Endure Tough Times

We all go through tough times. It doesn't matter if you are a professional athlete, a movie star, a business coach, a stay-at-home Mom or even the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

We give up on our dream . . . We fall out of love . . . We, or someone very close to us, gets diagnosed with an incurable disease . . . Or we simply lose our vision - the future we hope to have.

In spite of the immense struggle these life changing events can create for us, they do not define us. Nor do they define anyone else on this earth.


Viktor Frankl was not defined by his captivity in Nazi Germany.

However, his resiliency and ability to survive did define him.


Hellen Keller was not defined by the childhood disease that took away her sight, hearing, and ability to speak.

She was for the gifts and ideas
she has given the world
in spite of her disabilities.


Christopher Reeve was not defined by his tragic horse jumping accident.

He will be remembered for his will to survive and be a role model for thousands who suffered spinal injuries like his own.


A lesson that I have had to personally re-learn is:

No matter what difficulties you might face, no matter how hard things may seem, others have faced similar problems. Some choose to let the struggles dominate their lives and let those moments define the rest of their lives.

While others, those we call tend to call "Heroic" and "Inspirational", choose a different path. Rather than giving in to the circumstances which they faced, they stood up (sometimes even when they didn't have the strength to do so), and took the first step of the rest of their lives towards the dreams they have - towards the life they choose. Not the one that choose them.

Maybe, someday I'll be looked at as inspirational, but that's not why I choose to move forward. I choose to move forward because I choose to make my dreams come true - to be the person that I want to be, not the one that many others have thought I should be . . . or the one that life is / was steering me to become.

Thank you all who are reading this blog. I have been away for a month or so - lost in my own world. I hope that you find your way back to reading my ideas and thoughts again in the coming days, weeks and months.

Bless You.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Control Is An Illusion

Micromanagers govern their kingdoms with rules, constant oversight, supervision and most often an iron fist. Their entire management model is build on "Control". And sadly, they typically spend so much time in the weeds, directing their subordinates, they struggle at the bigger picture of their own job - requiring their bosses to "micromanage" them as well.

The truth is, Control is an Illusion.

Whether you believe it or not, you really don't have control over anything but yourself and what YOU do. And the more Control and Authority you try to invoke over others, they less you actually have (just ask any parent with a teenager).

Your employees do what THEY want to do (nothing more and nothing less) - which is usually what they are rewarded to do. Thus, the concept of work in the first place.

You see, you and your company promise your employees a reward (pay) for coming to and engaging in the work you assign, and they gladly do just that . . . come to work and do what you "tell" them to do.

So the control you think you have, what little there actually is, comes from getting them to "want to do what you want them to do", not because you tell them to do it. Thus, the question that most managers have, but few are actually good at answering is "How do I get them to want to work?"

Hence the dilemma of the Manager, and the birth of the Micromanager.

But there are things you can do to change this. There are ideas you can implement and techniques you can follow to become a more effective manager. If you want to become a more effective manager / leader of your direct reports, you simply need to change your perspective and mindset, the behavior will follow. You need to see your employees as more than just things that do what they are told, when they are told, and how they are told to do it. You need to see them as thinking individuals, that think, act, behave, and are motivated much like you are.

You need to apply the following 5 ideas / steps to your management style:

- TEACH the methods and guidelines of the company,
- DEFINE the results,
- EMPOWER their employees,
- Establish an environment of ACCOUNTABILITY where employees are held accountable for results
- REWARD the behavior you want

Over the next five days, I will break down each of these 5 elements of Management (each day a different idea) to give you the tools you need to move from being a micromanager to an empowering leader and effective manager.

Marcus Buckingham & Curt W. Coffman

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are You A Micromanager?

According to Wikipedia, Micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees.

Why is it that no one thinks they are a Micromanager, but yet everyone thinks they work for one?

Are all managers that ignorant to their style?

Are You A Micromanager?

Since the first step in improving anything in your life is recognizing and accepting that problem, let's first start with self analysis and facing the truth about yourself.

Here are seven questions that all managers should ask of themselves?
  1. Is the mission more important to you than control over the situation?
  2. Do your direct reports know what is expected of them?
  3. Do you provide guidance more than you impose direction?
  4. Do you set goals for your employees and empower them to achieve them?
  5. Do you delegate day-to-day routine functions so you can look up and out to more important things?
  6. Do you tolerate failures and allow mistakes to happen or do you castrate your staff for even the slightest hiccup?
  7. Do you praise more than you criticize?
So how many times did you answer Yes?

Six or seven times - You are a real leader - others will follow you through fire.
Four or five times - You are pretty good manager and a burgeoning leader. Your employees are committed, but the talents are still untapped.
Two or three times - You are average, but quite honestly, not getting as much from your people as you could.
Less than two times - You are a quintessential micromanager and your people hate working for you. They are more committed to their pay than to you.

Take It One Step Further

So now that you know where you stand in your own mind, how about asking your employees the same questions about you and your style of management?

Their answer maybe the same as yours, but if you are like most, they probably won't. But if you want to be the best manager you can be, then first you have to know what your direct reports think of you, as well as every other measure of success you have.

Once you know how you see yourself and how others see you, you are ready to take the steps you need to take to become a better manager and get more out of everyone that works for you. Throughout the next week, this blog will be dedicated to helping Managers and Leaders take small steps to becoming more effective. Join me and learn the little things you can do to make a difference in your office - both for yourself and for everyone that works for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Not The Knowledge That Makes The Difference

I've spent the better part of the last three years of my life completely immersed in learning about Business. From marketing to operations and finance to human resources, the focus of my effort has been to learn and to understand how to help small businesses grow.

In my search, I have read hundreds of blogs and dozens of books, watched countless videos and listened to hours of speeches. And in spite of all the great advice out there, the single most important thing that I've learned in all of that, has little to do with any of the published knowledge and everything to do with whether or not people actually act upon the knowledge they learn.

That's right, I'm saying it matters less what you know, and more that you act upon what you know.

I know there are a lot of people that are going to get frustrated with that statement. Because if people actually listen to me, they will stop spending the hundreds of millions of dollars they are currently spending on finding out the answer, and actually begin doing what they need to do to make their businesses grow. . . take action.

It's What You Do, Not What You Know

People rarely get rich based on what they know. They do, however, get rich based on the actions they take based on what they know.

It's not necessarily having the best marketing plan. But instead actually having one and acting on it.

It's not having an MBA from a prestigious University that makes you successful in business, some of the best business men and women in the world don't even have Bachelors degrees. Instead, it's what you do, with the knowledge you have.

So, stop looking for the "silver bullet" answer out there - the one piece of education, one book, one blog, or one story that will shine the light on you. Instead begin implementing what you have learned, and make adjustments as you go and as you learn, practically.

Don't just spend all of your time learning. Start doing.

Start living!